CONTROVERSIAL plans to move Bristol’s Central Library from its historic home have been scrapped after a public outcry.
Bristol City Council’s ruling Labour party said the plans would be dropped after speaking to residents in the ward where the library is located, which is facing a by-election next month.
Plans to relocate the Library from its Grade-I listed home on College Green were revealed in November by the council as part of proposed cuts. The council is facing a giant hole in its budget due to inflation and a lack of funding from the central government.
But the plans met opposition from across the political spectrum, and appear to now have been dropped from next year’s budget. Liberal Democrats and Greens claimed the move was due to the upcoming by-election in Hotwells and Harbourside, on February 2.
Councillor Ellie King, cabinet member for communities and public health, and Eileen Means, Labour candidate in the by-election, blamed the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for austerity and “forcing councils to shut” hundreds of libraries.
They said it was “only right and responsible” to consider every option but now their intention was to keep the library where it was.
Stephen Williams, former Lib Dem MP and candidate in the by-election, tweeted: “How marvellously cynical. The Labour mayor ‘saves’ the Central Library from his own closure plans, in the middle of an election, just to save the Labour candidate from electoral humiliation.”
Ed Fraser, a local Green party officer, added: “Shock horror, another stitch up. For the second by-election in a row Bristol Labour has cooked up a threat to a service in the ward so they can then claim they’ve saved it. No wonder they’re stuck in third place.”
By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service